March 26, 2011

Enchanted Garden Chapter Six

And then the aliens landed.

We dare you to start your next chapter with the sentence “And then the aliens landed.”

The ship flew close over the tops of the trees and settled neatly into the meadow nearby, unfolded its legs, and settled to the ground. As soon as the engine cut off, the terrible shaking stopped, and Harold, Dusty, and Newt rose a little unsteadily to their feet. The ship was the blackest black that Newt had ever had the occasion to see, such a darkness of black that it looked like a hole in the sky above her. She felt like she was about to tumble into that hole, and fall into the very depths of space itself. It was the shape of the classic flying saucer, with a convex top and bottom, and a smaller dome in the center of the top. It rested on the soil of the meadow on a trio of short legs, each equipped with an upside down Frisbee shaped foot, similar to the feet of the lunar excursion module that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin flew when they landed on the Moon. There were no lights on the ship, but then, why would any one need lights when they were making a landing in the middle of the day? Newt had no doubt that they had lights available to them in case they ever needed to land at night. Come to think about it, the ship would, for all intents and purposes, be totally invisible at night, if it didn’t have lights turned on.

There was a long period of time after the ship landed that the three children just simply stood and stared at the space ship that had landed in their meadow.

Dusty finally broke the silence.

“Good thing we moved when we did, otherwise they would have probably landed right smack on top of us.”

Harold nodded his assent. “No kidding. I wonder who they are, but I also think they probably know what planet we’re on. Perhaps, if we’re very lucky, we can talk them into giving us a ride back to Earth.”

Dusty snorted. “If they speak English, and if they know where Earth is, and if it’s not too far out of the way, and if they’re willing to let’s work off the price of our passage, because I’m sure willing to bet that we don’t have any money in their currency, and even if we did, it certainly wouldn’t be near enough to buy passage on any ship for the three of us. If you think that all aliens are shaped like humans and they all speak English, and none of them use money, then you’ve been watching far too many low-budget science fiction shows on television.”

Newt opened her mouth to protest, then realized that Dusty was probably right. She wasn’t about to ask him where he learned to think depressing thoughts like that, because he would probably say it was from watching that Doctor Who show, which, she added savagely within the privacy of her own mind, was probably one of those low-budget science fiction television shows he’d just been talking about.

With a sudden, startling movement, one part of the blackness suddenly began to drop from the lower curve of the ship. It opened wider and wider, and a dazzlingly bright light issued forth from the crack in the ship. A whooshing sound accompanied the opening door, or hatch, or whatever the aliens wanted to call the opening in the side of their space ship, and Newt understood that the air pressure inside the ship and the air pressure outside the ship were at least slightly different. The whooshing sound was the exchange of gasses as the different pressures stabilized, much the same as the hissing whoosh that you heard when you opened a bottle of soda pop.

“Well, at least they breathe the same air we do,” Harold said in a soft tone of relief.

“If they breathe at all,” Dusty replied.

Newt found that she herself wasn’t breathing much at all, in anticipation of seeing who, or more properly, what, might come striding, rolling, oozing, or otherwise ambulating down that ramp.

A pair of booted black feet appeared at the top of the ramp, with a black cloak draped across behind them. Newt’s first panicked thought was of Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, that mean and nasty villain from the Star Wars universe. Then she mentally chastised herself.

Darth Vader lived only in the imagination of George Lucas, and in the hearts of the fans of the universe of the Star Wars sixlogy.

(Okay, sixlogy is probably not actually a real word, but hey, it makes sense Trilogy is a story in three parts, so sixlogy is a story in six parts, right? Or would it properly be hexlogy, as in hexagon, the six sided polygon? It’s probably hexlogy, although that might be mistaken for a story in which witches cast wicked spells called hexes. But I digress. As often as possible. It raises up my word count quite nicely, thank you.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the black booted feet with the black cape at the top of the ramp that reminded Newt of Darth Vader.)

Just as she dismissed the thought from her mind, Harold whispered softly, “Darth Vader,” just as Dusty said, “But he doesn’t exist! Not in the real world”.

Newt breathed, “But are we still in the real world? Remember Old Mrs. M’s garden. We might be still on Earth, and just having our senses scrambled, or be seeing hallucinations.”

“I don’t think people can share the same hallucination,” Dusty said softly.

The black boots started down the ramp, and all three of them, Harold, Dusty, and Newt, immediately fell into complete and absolute silence.

The boots were followed by long, shapely, female legs covered in black leggings, then a day-glo orange tunic length sweater, in a very simple stockinette stitch design. The day-glo orange sweater was also shaped as though the being wearing it was female, an attribute so shapely that Newt was instantly consumed with jealousy, while Harold and Dusty both stood there with their mouths gaping wide open, and drool running down their chins. She had short blonde hair, cut to just about the length of her shoulders, and was wearing an old fashioned pirate hat, complete with the skull and crossed bones symbol that hopefully didn’t stand for death and piracy through out the universe, and a long and fluffy white feather stuck into the hat band at a very jaunty angle. A short curved sword hung from her belt, the sort that would be called a scimitar in the old Arabic world.

We dare you to put intergalactic pirates in your novel. Bonus Points if they knit sweaters.

By the time the pirate, if she was a pirate, and if she was a she, had reached the bottom of the ramp, two more of her fellows had started downward. They also wore swords, though in differing styles. One of the women carried a rapier, the sort of long, straight sword favored by Zorro and the Three Musketeers, while the other was wearing a katana, the long and very slightly curved sword used by ninjas and Duncan Macleod in the Highlander television series.

Both of these pirates also wore black boots and leggings, although neither one of them was wearing a cape. Perhaps the cape was a sign of which one was the captain of their piratical space ship. The two followers were also wearing tunic length sweaters. The sweater belonging to the one with the rapier had horizontal stripes, and was knitted in horizontally ribbed garter stitch. The stripes were the colors of autumn leaves, brown, copper, orange, and yellow.

The katana pirate’s sweater was a complicated affair with vertical panels that were all cabled, sewn to a horizontally cabled yoke, and a garter stitched panel above the cabling on the yoke. It was in a beautiful light gray, and had a decidedly medieval cast to it. It was the most gorgeous sweater that Newt had ever seen, and she was consumed with jealousy.

All three of the women were wearing identical pirate hats, though the woman with the cape had somehow made her feather jauntier than the other pair. The trio of pirates look a look around, and apparently satisfying themselves that no one was around, gathered around a piece of paper. They were reading it intently, and judging from their lack of caution when coming down the ramp, it was pretty obvious that the pirates were not expecting any trouble on this planet.

Perhaps the pirates just simply knew that they had landed on an uninhabited portion of the planet and were not expecting to meet any local denizens, in which case it was good for the three children, Harold, Dusty, and Newt that the pirates had indeed landed there, so that the children didn’t have to walk the entire length of a continent just to find out what planet they were on.

Taking her courage into her hands, along with a double handful of dress, Newt stepped in to view.

The three pirates’ heads snapped up as they stared at her, and the paper vanished from sight. Newt suddenly realized that the lady pirate’ sword belts were not just wide belts, but had an assortment of pouches built into them, most of which were, judging from their bulkiness, stuffed absolutely full of something or other. Newt could understand them being startled by her sudden exit from the woods. It’s not an everyday occurrence to have someone dressed as Marie Antoinette step out of the lavender woods in to the bright blue sunlight under a blazing red sky.

The woman Newt had taken as the leader of the pirates swaggered over toward her.

“Well, well, well, look what we’ve here, ladies,” she drawled.

The pirate in the gray medieval sweater sauntered over to Newt, and walked a complete circle around her, as though she was examining some new species of bug. “Looks like some rich little girl is a long, long way from home, Captain Holly,” she answered.

The third pirate in the autumn leaf striped sweater strode briskly over to add her two cents. “I wonder where she’s from, and how much her poor little picked on parents will pay to have her returned to them,” she said.

Captain Holly put her hands on her hips and threw back her head as she laughed, long and loud.

‘So much for aliens not speaking English,” Dusty muttered from the shadows behind Newt.

Holly’s laughter instantly died from her lips. “And what’s this, ladies? Have we found ourselves some men folk? She drew her curved scimitar and pointed it in to the shadows of the trees behind Newt.

“All right, boys, come out quietly, and with your hands up,” she commanded with a perfect voice of authority.

Harold and Dusty both stepped from the forest, all four of their hands raised to shoulder height, in perfect western movie form.

“Now,” said Captain Holly, “who are you and what are you doing on Purvis Major?”

“I’m Harold,” said Harold, “and this is my friend, Dusty,” he added with a nod in Dusty’s direction, “and my other friend Newt,” and he nodded toward Newt. “May I ask who you are?”

Captain Holly smiled a long, slow, smile that tended toward the dark side of power.

“Certainly you may,” she replied.

There was a sizable silence. Then Harold, apparently realizing what he had actually asked, said, “Who are you?”

Captain Holly smiled again before she answered. “I’m Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master of the Talley Valley Farm Clan, and South Carolina Sith Lord, and these are my crew mates, Darth Wolf, and Knit Solo. And that’s my ship, the Troll,” she added almost offhandedly, using the hand not holding the curved scimitar to gesture over her shoulder at the ship.

“It looks like a very fine ship,” Harold said. “It’s a strange thing indeed to me to come so far from my home and to find people who speak the same language as I do, when I know people who live just down the street from me who don’t speak the same language as I do.”

Hollerin’ Holly laughed again, and then with the hand not holding her drawn sword, she indicated a small metal chip clipped to the neckline of her bright, day-glo orange sweater.

“I don’t necessarily speak the same language that you do, Harold, but this little thing is a…hmmm how do I put this…a universal translator. It usually manages to get the gist of the meaning right, even when the syntax is a little mixed up.”

“How does it work?” Dusty asked with a note of eagerness in his voice. Newt winced, but then, she reminded herself, universal translators were the stuff of the science fiction television shows that Dusty so admired.

“Well, actually,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master said, “this,” and she gestured again to the metal tab on her collar, stroking it just a bit with the tip of her finger, “is just a link to the central core of our ship, The Troll. Actually, The Troll has a psychic circuit that gets inside your mind, and translates all of the languages, all of the time for you. It translates any language, all languages, both in their written and in their spoken forms.”

“The collar chip,” explained Knit Solo, the pirate in the light grey medieval type cabled sweater, “is just a repeater relay, kind of like a booster station for the psychic signal. It also keeps The Troll from having to look for us. It pinpoints where we’re, and then the poor little overworked Troll only has to translate languages seen and heard in our immediate vicinity.”

“But,” interrupted Darth Wolf, as though she were afraid Knit Solo would give away too much information about their ship, “You never answered Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master’s second question. What are you doing on Purvis Major? This is supposed to be an uninhabited planet.”

Harold answered for the three of them. “Actually, we don’t know how we got here, or, until you asked us what we were doing on Purvis Major-“

“Major,” Darth Wolf corrected, as her left hand caressed the hilt of her long straight rapier.

“Purvis Major,” Harold corrected himself, “well, until you asked us, we didn’t even know which planet we were on.”

Darth Wolf laughed delightedly, and reached out with her right hand and stroked his face.

Harold shuddered at her touch, but didn’t retreat so much as a single step.

“Well, you’ve intestinal fortitude, or what otherwise might be called guts, I’ll give you that,” she stated, and then she returned to the company of her fellow lady pirates.

“Purvis Major is uninhabited?” Dusty asked, his white face betraying his fear.

Newt was in shock also. They could have walked forever, in any direction, and grown to old age and died before they found anyone or were rescued. What a blessed coincidence it had been that the lady pirates had landed just before they walked too far away to hear the ship. Now all they had to do was talk the lady pirates into actually rescuing them.

“Um” Newt began, “do you think there is any possibility that you three could give us a lift home? We don’t have any money, and I’m sure we probably use different currency in any event, but we would gladly work for our passage home” she finished in a rush.

“Well, that depends,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master said, “entirely on where your home is. It’s not like I have landing permits on every planet in the universe.”

“We’re from Earth,” Harold said, eager to be of some help.

“We’re from Earth,” Darth Wolf mimicked him with great mockery. “Are you perhaps not aware that every single civilization names their home planet some variation on the word ‘earth’? Earth, Dirt, Soil, Home, Mud, Sand, Swampish, Ground, Clay, Dust, Duff, Gravel, Humus, Loam, Loess, Marl, Silt, Subsoil, Topsoil, Land,” she paused here for a breath. “I’ve seen them all, I’ve stood on their surfaces, and I’ve hunted treasures on all of them, and every single one of them translates to the simple, stupid word ‘Earth’. So don’t bother with useless names. What are the galactic coordinates of your home planet?”

By the end of her diatribe, Harold was nearly in tears.

“I...I don’t know” he stammered.

Dusty spoke up. “We don’t know the galactic coordinates. Until this morning, we didn’t even know there were other habitable planets, although our scientists have long suspected their existence. I may not have the right words or numbers for you, but I can relate some facts about our galaxy and solar system to you which might help your computer to narrow things down,” he paused for a moment, and Newt was certain it was simply for dramatic effect, then he continued, “You do have a computer, I suppose?” he asked with a condescending sneer in his voice.

“Hold it!” Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master said with a sneer in her own voice. “I haven’t agreed to take any one any place, so at this point it simply doesn’t matter exactly where their home planet is, or what it’s called. To begin with, I think that it’s pretty obvious at this point that they mean us no harm.” She sheathed her curved scimitar, and added, “You boys can put your hands down now.”

Harold and Dusty both did so, with relief evident in their faces. Harold and Dusty both rubbed vigorously at their hands. Newt suspected they were trying to wake up the extremities of their limbs and bring feeling back in to the flesh and joints located there.

“Now,” said Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master, “come over here and sit in the shade of our ship, The Troll, and share your story with us.”

She confidently turned her back on them and strolled underneath the ship, having to duck her head only a little bit to walk comfortably beneath it.

“Knit Solo, would you please grab us some chairs? And tell RavenWolf to come out too. I’ve a feeling this will be a story that she will want to hear. Yes, I know November starts tomorrow and she’s working on the last preparations for her NaNoWriMo novel, but she can stop working for a few minutes and perhaps she will hear something really cool that she can add to her novel.”

We dare you to get your characters in the NaNoWriMo spirit and have them write their own novels.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Knit Solo replied, saluting, “but don’t let them start until I get back, promise?”

“I promise,” laughed Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master as she led the way beneath The Troll.

Knit Solo dashed up the ramp into the ship as the three children, Newt, Dusty, and Harold followed the pair of lady pirates, Hollering Holly the Troll Master and Darth Wolf into the shade beneath the ship.

They chatted and made desultory conversation while they waited for the promised chair.

“You’ve a crew of four, then?” Dusty wanted to know.”

“Actually, the Troll pretty much flies itself, once we’ve put in the coordinates and set it in to motion,” said Captain Hollerin’ Holly.

“It’s an interstellar ship, obviously,” Dusty asked.

“Interuniversal,” answered Darth Wolf.

“Cool,” said Harold.

There was the rattling sound of two pairs of feet thudding down the ramp. The new pirate, RavenWolf, was dressed much the same as her shipmates. She carried a fencing foil thrust through her belt with the blade naked, and Newt could see that the tip had been sharpened. Her sweater was done in knit four purl two ribbing, and was in horribly clashing horizontal stripes of maroon, burnt orange, and mustard yellow, with an occasional very thin stripe of deep purple separating the wider horizontal bars.

“Interesting sweater,” Newt said by way of greeting.

“Oh, thank you, do you like it?” gushed RavenWolf. “It’s the first thing I’ve ever knitted, and I wasn’t too certain about the colors, but I think they will do nicely, now that they’re all together.”

“So you knitted it yourself?” Newt asked, trying to avoid mentioning to her hostess that she hated the colors and thought that they absolutely didn’t go together in any manner at all, and they didn’t look any better on a sweater than they did on Southwest Airline’s airplanes.

“Oh, yes,” added Knit Wit, “we all made our own sweaters. Knitting gives us something to do on long interuniversal trips. The further we go, the longer it takes us to get there. At first, I was the only one knitting, and the long distances gave me plenty of time for knitting. They all got jealous of my sweaters and asked me to knit them some, so instead, I taught them how to knit their own sweaters. We have a whole room in the ship just devoted to yarns of different fiber types and colors, so that we can always make exactly the sweater that we want to create.

“While I’m sure all this talk of yarn is just fascinating to our young guests, you nitwit, I, for one, want to hear the tale of how they arrived here,” Darth Wolf stated flatly.

By this point in time the folding chairs had been set up in the soft, knee high grasses under the ship, and the pirates had discarded their swords and settled comfortably into the chairs. The boys sprawled in their chairs also, and Knit Solo had even brought a chaise lounge without arms that accommodated Newt and her wide hoop skirt.

The words flowed from the children’s mouths, and they tumbled over one another, interrupting and backtracking, as they explained how they had set out for the Halloween party at the mall in Belly Button, Arizona, and found the enchanted path, and then met the witch, who had apparently sent them here out of a fine state of pique just because they had trespassed just a little in her garden.

Darth Wolf appeared to take the attitude that they had deserved it, and that banishment for an unspecified period of time to an alien planet was a just and fitting punishment. RavenWolf and Knit Solo appeared to be more sympathetic to their plight, while Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master showed no emotion one way or the other until they had finished their long and involved narrative of their account of their adventures.

When they had reached the part about the ship landing and mentioned seeing the pirate ladies studying a piece of paper, the lady pirates actually blushed and exchanged guilty looks with each other, as though they had been caught doing something they ought not to be doing, or at least ought not to be caught doing.

“I’ve come to a decision,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly said after they had completed their fantastical tale. “If we can figure out where your planet ‘Earth’ is, then I’ll give you a ride home-“

She was interrupted by the trio of children cheering loudly and raucously, but a sharp whistle brought instant silence as Darth Wolf removed her two fingers from her mouth, where she had placed them in order to facilitate the creation of her loud whistle.

“Thank you, Darth Wolf,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly said in to the silence, then continued, “as I said previously, I’ll be more than happy to give you a lift home, but first you must help us to find the treasure that we seek here on Purvis Major. And for that to happen, you will each need a nickname and a stamp. What nicknames do the three of you usually go by?” she asked.

Knit Solo reached into one of her belt pouches and pulled out three brand new, never been used, pink school erasers, and a red, tear drop shaped device with knurled metal at one end. She laid the erasers on her knee and pried open the end of the red device, and then tipped it upward, spilling some curved bits of wickedly sharp looking metal into the palm of her hand.

“So” Knit Solo said, “Newt. That’s a nickname you go by, is it not?”

Newt nodded. “Yes, my last name is Newton. Some people at Rallison Junior High School call me ‘Fig Newton’, but I prefer ‘Newt’.”

“But a newt is also a lizard,” said Knit Solo, so I’ll carve you a stamp with a lizard on it.” She quickly attached a large flat blade to the red thing, which turned out to be a handle.

Quickly and neatly she sliced the slanted ends off of the pink school erasers. Dumping the ends back into her belt pouch, she pulled out a tiny stubby pencil that had writing on it.

Sketching lightly on to the pink school eraser, she soon had a very rudimentary lizard outlined, with a cute zigzag design running down his back.

“How does this look?” Knit Solo asked, showing the drawing to Newt. “Remember that when he’s stamped, he will be reversed.”

“He’s really cute!” Newt exclaimed as she reached out and touched the pink rubber eraser with a tentative finger.

Knit Solo grinned and changed the big flat blade for one of the smaller curved bits of metal, and then looked around, scowling.

“The light isn’t good enough here,” she muttered, and quickly gathered her things up in the hem of her sweater, then stood, grabbed her chair, and moved into a small slice of direct sunlight between the forest and the pirate ship.

With quick but even strokes, she used the curved metal tip to carve away bits of the eraser, leaving her penciled in lines standing tall above the newly carved surface. Within just a few minutes, Knit Solo had wrested the never before used pink school eraser into a rubber stamp of a cute little lizard. She pulled a small note book out of another pocket, and a marker out of someplace else, and used the marker to color the face of the lizard stamp. She stamped the image into her note book along side other beautiful stamped images, but the book was closed too quickly for Newt to get a very good look at them.

She handed the stamp to Newt, then took up the next eraser and looked at Harold.

“And what are you called?” Knit Solo asked him.

“I…my name is Harold Porter,” he answered her truthfully. “A lot of people call me Harry Potter, because of the names being similar, you know, plus the fact that I wear glasses, and I even have green eyes and black hair. They accuse me of being able to do magic, or taunt me that I’m not as good as Harry is, because I can’t do any magic. Well, before today, that always bothered me. And I didn’t believe in magic, not the least little bit. But now, I know that magic is a real thing, even if I’m a muggle. And I don’t really have any other nickname. My friends both call me Harold, because they know how bad I hated being called Harry Potter. But if I need a nickname and a rubber stamp with a sigil on it in order to hunt this treasure of yours, then perhaps I ought to be Harry Potter, who was raised among muggles, but finally learned that there was magic in the world, and perhaps my sigil should be his glasses and his lightning bolt scar.”

Knit Solo smiled. “Instead of the glasses and the scar, perhaps a better stamp for you would be the sign of the deathly hallows.”

Harold suddenly beamed. “Oh, yes,” he said, “I think that would be perfect!”

It was the work of mere minutes for Knit Solo to produce the triangle with its inscribed circle and the bisecting line, which together signified the resurrection stone that could bring people back to a half life, the invisibility cloak that never failed, and the elder wand, the wand that would always protect its true master.

When she was finished carving, and the image of the deathly hallows was safely stamped beside Newt’s newt, Knit Solo turned at last to Dusty.

“My name is Dustin Brown. My friends call me Dusty, but I can’t think of any way to turn the word Dusty into an image you could stamp. But my favorite television show is Doctor Who. I would love to be called the Doctor.

Knit Solo smiled again, a little sadly, and shook her head.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, “but a good friend of mine is called Romana, and she and her daughter are treasure hunters like us. Romana’s daughter is already called Doctor. So we can’t give you the same name. Is there any other character from the television show that you would like to adopt?”

We dare you to write yourself into your own novel. You might have fun in there!

For a long while, Dusty stood thinking, dragging the toe of one of his sneakers in the dirt, which, strangely, was actually brown.

Finally, he grinned shyly at Knit Solo and said, “Well, it’s been a long time since he was a character on Doctor Who, but he’s still well remembered and well loved. There was one, a young man, and pretty good looking, too, who was named Adric. He was really very good at math, and had even been given an award, a blue star, for excellence in mathematics. And I always get straight A’s in math class, and while I’m nowhere near as good at math as Adric was, still, I’m better at math than any of the other students at Rallison Junior High School. In fact, I’m working on high school level math already, and Mr. Tennant, the math teacher, thinks I’ll be doing college math before I get into high school. So could you carve me a star, and do you have a blue marker so it can be stamped in blue?”

Knit Solo nodded, and quickly sketched the outline of a star and it wasn’t long before a blue star for excellence in mathematics was shining in her small book beside the other two.

By this point in time, however, the sun was well on its way down. Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master consulted the sky, and then a piece of paper that appeared out of one of her pouch pockets. Then she calmly folded the paper and tucked it back away.

“Is that the map to the treasure?” Newt asked.

“Not a map, no, not precisely,” evaded Darth Wolf.

Knit Solo once again came to their rescue. “We’re what are called ‘letterboxers’. And what we do is search for hidden treasure. But what we call treasure isn’t what other people think of when they think of the word treasure. We’re hunting rubber stamps that people have hidden. Once they’re hidden, they write clues to them. Some times the clues are pretty straightforward, and some times they’re mysteries, either coded, or so shrouded in mystery that they become nearly impossible to figure out. Some times there is a sizable hike to get to the box where the stamp is, and some times you can drive right up to it. It all depends on who planted it, you see.

“We four, are after a particularly difficult box planted by a legendary letterboxer who goes by the name of wassamatta_u. And we’re here to find his box. When we find it-“

“If we find it,” Darth Wolf growled.

“When we find it,” Knit Solo proclaimed, her voice full of hope and determination, “then we’ll carefully remove it from its hiding place, and we’ll each stamp our stamps into the book in the box, to show those who come behind us that we were here. We’ll also take the stamp in the box, and stamp it into our own books, to give us memories, and to prove that we were here and found it. Then we’ll put everything back in the box, exactly as we found it, and replace the box back in its hiding place, exactly as we found it, and then return to our ship, to continue on with our adventure of finding treasures.”

“I still say it’s a matter of if we find wassa’s box,” Darth Wolf growled. “Remember the last one of his we went after? We had to snorkel all the way across the lake and take the compass heading, only to discover that the box was hiding beneath the place that sold the snorkeling gear. And there was that other box of his, that’s only accessible if you’re hunting it by cell phone light. And-“

“And that’s enough of giving away secrets to wassa boxes,” Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master said firmly. “There isn’t enough time left tonight to go after the box and get back to the ship before dark, I don’t think. So I think I shall order all hands inside, and we’ll have a good meal, and our new people here,” she waved her hand to include Harold, Newt, and Dusty, “can learn how to make their own logbooks, and then we’ll all get a good night’s sleep, and be ready to set off first thing in the morning so that we’ll have the most amount of daylight in order to find this box of wassa’s.”

No one disagreed with her, or even so much as scowled to themselves, but all of the pirate ladies got up and picked up their chairs, and retreated into the pirate ship which was named The Troll.

Newt and Dusty walked up the ramp side by side, shoulders brushing each other, while Harold and Captain Hollerin’ Holly the Troll Master were the last two to start up the ramp in to the ship.

As they reached the top of the ramp, Newt and Dusty froze in a perfect unison of shock and awe at the sight which met their eyes.